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Okay, so you have done the groundwork and now you are ready to get your hands dirty.

Good! This part requires lots of analysis, research and surveying.

I called this phase “Audit”, because that’s exactly what you will be doing. You are auditing the environment around your business, your business operations and its general state of health. The goal of this phase is to gather all the intelligence and synthesize it into a SWOT analysis, which will be used in the following phase of the Strategic Planning journey.

 

Step #6: Interview the executives

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
SPR n/a Completed questionnaire from all relevant executives Executive Interview Questionnaire Template

 

The objective of the interview is to get first hand qualitative feedback prior to the planning session (offsite), with regards to the strategic issues that the business faces. Note that the perspectives that will be received will be different based on who is being interviewed. So, it’s always a good idea to perform these interviews individually so that you receive candid, open and quality input into the analysis.

Step #7: Perform an Environment Scan

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
SPR  + LT n/a Completed PEST Analysis Template PEST Analysis Template

 

Also known as a PEST analysis, this is a critical tool in this process, it will help your business understand the business environment your company is in.  PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. Often for many industries it makes sense to add Legal, Regulatory or even Ecological, as it may be relevant for some businesses.

The idea is to have a holistic understanding of the factors that influence the business environment you are in.

Some of these points may seem too high level, remote or superfluous, but it is necessary for everyone to be aware of these factors, as they may influence strategies and objectives down the road.

When performing this analysis it is useful to refer to multiple secondary but reliable sources of information. Such as:

 

  • Periodicals, Books, Blogs
  • Government announcements and articles
  • Analyst Reports (across industries and businesses)
  • Regulators
  • Trade Organisations
  • Industry Websites

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Step #8: Analyse your competition

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
SPR  + LT + Product Managers
  • Web Research
  • Intelligence collected at trade shows
Completed Competitor Analysis Template Competitor Analysis Template

 

Performing a competitive analysis clearly outlines the potential opportunities and threats that exist in the market, based on your target customer segments.

Another very important benefit of a good competitor analysis is that you are able to validate that your Unique Value Proposition is in fact “unique”. It’s a good reality check!

Its important that you bring in the Product Managers into this exercise as they should already have a fair bit of insight into the competitive landscape. If you are lucky, you will have a baseline Competitor Analysis which you can use as a baseline and update for the purposes of this step.

If you are starting from scratch, below is a quick summary on how to perform a competitive analysis.

Step #9: Surface Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
SPR  + LT
  • Customer Feedback
  • Employee Survey (step 4)
  • Web Research
  • Intelligence collected at trade shows
  • Compiled information into easily accessible SWOT shared folder
  • SWOT Questionnaire
SWOT Template

 

In this step you will be distilling all of the inputs you have created or collected thus far into one of the four SWOT categories as a pre-curser to competing your SWOT analysis. Take a little bit of extra time in doing this exercise well and thoroughly as its fundamental to the journey.

You want to start with defining your Opportunities & Threats. Through all of the work you have done to this point, you may already have a number of these noted down in various inputs. Bring them out and talk through them until you are able to succinctly articulate each one.  Below are some quick definitions to guide you through the process.

 

Opportunities

They are the gaps you see in the market. They areas where your organisation can go into and build profit, growth, market share, etc. (depending on your strategy). These areas of opportunity need to be well aligned to your company’s capabilities (financial, technological, skill, etc). For example, if your business is very good at luxury mattress manufacturing, it would most likely be a bad strategy to move into the FINTECH space as you will probably not have the capabilities required to succeed in that arena. 

 

Threats

They are those areas, which can become roadblocks for your business. They are what can potentially stand in the way between the organisation and its vision. For example, if you are a retail grocery business that wants to grow and expand geographically and you don’t have an online offering for the convenience of your customers. That is a threat to your business. This is because, many of your competitors are moving into that space to offer customers convenience in this time-constrained world.

There are many sources of Opportunities and Threats – below is a guide to stimulate your thought process.

Once you are done with Opportunities & Threats, you should move onto understanding your organisational Strengths & Weaknesses.

 

Strengths

Refer to what your organisation does really well for its customers. Ask yourself what is your organisation’s bread and butter? Determine what makes you better than your competition and helps you retain your customers?

 

Weaknesses

They are your organisation’s limitations with regards to how it operates and serves its customers. Also, usually its something that your organisation does poorly in comparison to competitors.

The trouble with weaknesses is that the management team is sometimes blind to it. Therefore, we need to rely on the feedback of others (your customers, your employees are very good options). Much like with Opportunities and guide to stimulate your thought process.

 

 

Step #10: Customer Analysis

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
Sales & Marketing Team Customer Data Completed Customer Analysis Customer Analysis Template

 

Every business has customers, and every business needs to understand their customers in order to serve them well and keep them loyal. This step is designed to help you understand what are your various customer segments and why they are your customers. You need to be clear about your value proposition. Not as a blanket statement across your business, but specifically across each customer segment.

Having an intimate understanding of the value your bring to each type of customer, the pain points they have, their wants and needs will empower you with the tools and knowledge you need to create amazing products and services for them. Not to mention, your marketing campaigns will be much sharper and effective.

In this exercise you should be completing one Customer Analysis Template for each customer segment your business has.

Step #11: Draft SWOT Analysis

 

Who Inputs Outputs Tools & Resources
SPR + LT
  • Compiled SWOT Information
  • SWOT Questionnaire
  • Customer Analysis
SWOT Analysis SWOT Analysis Template

 

This is the where we bring it all together.  All the information received on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats should be succinctly itemized into the SWOT template. It should also include any additional insights you gathered from the Customer Analysis exercise.

Once completed, this will be shared with the Planning Team for consumption prior to the offsite in the next phase.

Use the SWOT Analysis template to guide you through this process (albeit you should have already started this in step #9). In the next few steps, you will understand how the SWOT analysis will be used to determine strategies and prioritization.